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Tamarind nutrition facts

Sweet and tangy tamarind is one of the widely used condiment spice found in every South Asian kitchens!

The tree is very large with long heavy drooping branches and dense foliage. Fully grown up may tree reach up to 80 feet in height. During each season, the tree bears irregularly curved pods in abundance all along its branches. Each pod has thick outer shell encasing deep brown color sticky pulp enveloping 2-10 hard dark brown colored seeds.

Botanically, the tree is among the large tropical trees belonging to the family of fabaceae; of the genus: Tamarindus.  Scientific name: Tamarindus indica.

Tamarinds are evergreen tropical trees native to Africa. They grow throughout tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, South Asia, South America and Caribbean islands.

Health benefits of Tamarind

  • Tamarind contains many health benefiting essential volatile chemical compounds, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber.

  • Its sticky pulp is rich source of non-starch polysaccharides (NSP) or dietary fiber such as gums, hemicelluloses, mucilage, pectin and tannins. 100 g of fruit pulp provides 5.1 or over 13% of dietary fiber. NSP or dietary fiber in the food increases its bulk and augments bowel movements thereby help prevent constipation. The fiber also binds to toxins in the food thereby help protect the colon mucus membrane from cancer causing chemicals.

  • In addition, dietary fibers in the pulp bind to bile salts (produced from cholesterol) and decrease their re-absorption in the colon; thereby help excretion of “bad” or LDL cholesterol levels from the body.

  • While lemon contains citric acid, tamarind is rich in tartaric acid. Tartaric acid gives a sour taste to food but is also a very powerful antioxidant. (Anti-oxidant E-number is E334). It helps body protect from harmful free radicals.

  • Tamarind fruit contains many volatile phytochemicals such as limonene, geraniol, safrole, cinnamic acid, methyl salicylate, pyrazine and alkyl­thiazoles. Together these compounds account for the medicinal properties of tamarind.

  • This prized spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.

  • It is also rich in many vital vitamins including thiamin, vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health.

Medicinal uses of Tamarind

  • Its pulp has been used in many traditional medicines as laxative, digestive, and as a remedy for biliousness and bile disorders.

  • This spice condiment is also used as emulsifying agent in syrups, decoctions, etc in different pharmaceutical products.

See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Tamarind (Tamarindus indica),
Nutritional value per 100 g.
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)
Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 239 Kcal 12%
Carbohydrates 62.50 g 40%
Protein 2.80 g 5%
Total Fat 0.60 g 3%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 5.1 g 13%

Folates 14 µg 3.5%
Niacin 1.938 mg 12%
Pantothenic acid 0.143 mg 3%
Pyridoxine 0.066 mg 5%
Thiamin 0.428 mg 36%
Vitamin A 30 IU 1%
Vitamin C 3.5 mg 6%
Vitamin E 0.10 mg <1%
Vitamin K 2.8 µg 2%

Sodium 28 mg 2%
Potassium 628 mg 13%

Calcium 74 mg 7%
Copper 0.86 mg 9.5%
Iron 2.80 mg 35%
Magnesium 92 mg 23%
Phosphorus 113 mg 16%
Selenium 1.3 µg 2%
Zinc 0.10 mg 1%

Carotene-ß 18 µg --
Crypto-xanthin-ß 0 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 µg --

Selection and storage

Fresh tamarind pods are available in late spring and early summer seasons. However, several different forms of processed tamarind such as compressed tamarind blocks, ready-to-use slice, paste, concentrates, balls etc. are made available in the markets.

Choose fresh unbroken pods packed in boxes. If you are purchasing processed form, buy the product from a well reputed authentic brand. Avoid old, desiccated pulp, or off-smelling products.

Once at home store the pods or pulp in the refrigerator where it will stay fresh for several months.

Culinary uses

Delicately sweet and sour, tamarind is one of the most sought after ingredient in Indian, Middle Eastern and south-East Asian cooking. In some Indian households, the pods are cut open and fresh pulp is used as and when required. The seeds are then removed by beating the pulp with “wooden stick” kept at home especially for this purpose. One may also carefully use paring knife to separate seeds.

In general, a small slice of the pulp is soaked in half a cup of warm water for about 10 minutes. Swirl the pulp with your fingers so that the pulp is dissolved evenly in water to make thin sauce. Strain the juice through a thin cloth sieve and use for cooking.

Here are some serving tips:

  • Tamarind is a common ingredient all over India and South-East Asia in curries, “rasam”, chutneys, as well as in vegetable and lentil recipes.

  • The pulp is also favored in “hot and sour” soups as well in marinades.

  • The juice made out of tamarind pulp with addition of dates, sugar, honey,cardamom, cloves, and coriander seeds are a refreshing drink marketed in different parts of the world.

  • Its pulp is also used in confectionaries as solidifying agent.

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